Lost sleep small price to pay for Assessment Center experience
By Megan Dutill ‘13
College Relations Intern
Walking around campus and wearing business casual at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning is not normal.
There was no football game that day, it was cold and it was a Saturday: The perfect recipe for sleeping in. But instead, I was wearing heels and hurrying to the Bank of America Career Services building for the Leadership Assessment Center.
I found myself approaching that day like it was the first day of a new job: I’d done background research on the company, gotten up early and desperately hoped that I’d be able to do all the work competently.
Of course, my other jobs have never required me to take an extensive personality test or write an executive summary of company data and bring it to work with me. But the assessment center held the same professional expectations and atmosphere as any real company. We had our own individual offices, and the assessors – often playing the role of our boss or customer – treated us like the managers we apparently were. We interacted professionally with each other as colleagues during the various group assignments or passing each other in the hallway, and by the end of the day, we felt like we really worked for this made-up company.
But the point wasn’t just to prove that we could survive in a working environment – otherwise known to college students as “the real world.” As Dr. Rick Jacobs, the creator of the Leadership Assessment Center, reminded us that morning, the point wasn’t even how well we did on any of the exercises. Instead, it was what we did with the feedback we received that really mattered.
We completed several different exercises and simulations throughout the day, ranging from written assignments to presentations and group discussions. While I can’t go into specific detail because the scenario and exercises will be used again in upcoming assessment days, the tasks were engaging, real-world situations that were applicable to everyone, regardless of their major. Each exercise was created to highlight specific competencies and facets of leadership. As the alumni and graduate student assessors observed me throughout the day, they were able to see how I worked in a variety of different situations and pinpoint some of my strengths and weaknesses, or what the Assessment Center refers to as “developmental opportunities.”
They later combined each of their perspectives into a feedback report, and I met with one of the assessors personally a week later to discuss it. We talked about how cooperating and creativity were two of my greatest strengths, but planning details is an area for development. Then she helped me strategize ways to improve. For instance, I’m going to try to make lists and schedules whenever it’s appropriate, and I made specific goals related to researching and planning my summer internship applications.
But the best part of this experience? I had fun! I genuinely enjoyed the people and the work. If that wasn’t enough, I even walked away with a better understanding of my skills and some specific ways to tackle my weaknesses … I mean, developmental opportunities.
And it only cost a few hours of sleep.
Megan Dutill ’13 is a junior Schreyer Scholar majoring in Advertising/Public Relations in the College of Communications. She is an intern in the Schreyer Honors College’s College Relations Office for the 2011-12 academic year. She participated in a Leadership Assessment Center session in November 2011.